Wow-I’ve just reread this, and I think I may actually have been suffering from heat exhaustion or too much of a pizza-oriented diet…
This is a story, or perhaps more of a fable, that I wrote in a Spanish airport. It’s all about being who you are, because the most important thing in life is to be who you are, whether everyone else in the world is like that or not.
Once upon a time, a cuddly (but very sentient) giraffe existed. He was simply named Giraffe, or occasionally Geronimo, belonged to a teenage girl, and was just one of many such cuddly toys owned by the girl. Alas, many of his friends had been shut in the loft or sent to the Great Wasteland of the Charity Shop. But this giraffe had stayed with her since birth, and survived the cut.
Many cuddly giraffes existed-indeed, one of his closest friends was another giraffe, about half his size and named George. But Giraffe was different to your average giraffe. For one small, but very important, reason- he had a startling absence of the long neck and legs for which giraffes are so acclaimed. He also had a rather rounded tummy – too many hugs and not enough exercise can do that to a giraffe.
Giraffe was proud of his differences. He felt that long legs and necks were overrated, and spent many years trying to spread his opinions into public views, and made another good friend who, like him, was a bit different. Before we continue with Giraffe’s story, let me introduce this new character.
Nicholas, often known as the Dripster, was a human man. He outwardly matched the rest of the human population; four limbs, two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth. But it’s what’s inside that counts. The Dripster’s individual characteristic, his Unique Selling Point, was that he drank cider. Now, this is fairly common now. Since the rise of Magners Irish Cider, cider has become more widespread across the world, and the Dripster no longer got odd looks when drinking a pint of Strongbow. But back in the day, cider was rare. Drinking it incurred jokes and assumptions about yokels from outside London, not helped by the Wurzels’ hit ‘I’m a Cider Drinker’.
The Dripster and Giraffe made an unlikely pairing, but established a mission in life: to create acceptance of short and fat giraffes and cider drinkers. (They weren’t sure if anything could be done to help short, fat, cider-drinking giraffes though.)
After many years of hard work and travelling the globe, the pair made a breakthrough. They persuaded The Cuddly Overlord (a rather threadbare teddy bear named after a train station) to set up a cider business, named Magners. Cider became mainstream! Ever since the Overlord signed that contract, cider has been served in pubs and bars all over the world, and a worldwide movement for the end of cuddly toy discrimination (headed by Magners) was formed. Nothing could dent Giraffe’s happiness.
But One day, the giraffe’s Master Hug Giver was sad. She was a teenager now, and felt it wasn’t the right thing to do to keep so many cuddly toys. The giraffe gave her some wise words of advice. He told her that cuddly toys were essential for the world to go round. He said that they added the extra necessary oomph to a football crowd that helped a useless team win, that they annoyed the most annoying people at the airport by using their bums to set off the airport security alarm and slow the queue down, and that they improved the most abysmal baking skills-all cookies are better with chocolate chips, right? (It’s a little known fact that the very best cuddly toys excrete chocolate chips.) But the wise giraffe also said that being different was the most important part of a person. If nobody used to drink cider, who would be there to point out how awful Magners really was? (It was the thought that counted, setting up a cider business – not the actual quality of the produce!) If every giraffe had an identical neck, whk would be there to reduce giraffe discrimination against those with short necks and campaign for acceptance of all body types? And most of all, if nobody had cuddly toys beyond the age of eight, there would be nobody to prove how essential they are to life (and chocolate chip cookies!).
To prove his point, Geronimo (this was one of those occasions that merited the use of his full name, to give justice to his awesomeness), called the Dripster to tell the Master Hug Giver the tale of his quest for cider acceptance. He told of deflecting teasing and sarcastic comments, of the importance to have your own individual characteristic, and most importantly, of the need to be yourself. After all, he said, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind (this was actually said by Dr Seuss, but the Master Hug Giver didn’t know this). From that day on, the Master Hug Giver campaigned for the acceptance of cuddly toys, for all ages. The government has now passed a law saying all houses must contain a minimum of one cuddly toy, and the Master Hug Giver’s legacy lives on.
Because it is important to be yourself – everyone else is already taken.